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CCHE 680: Mesquite University Case Study

Barbara Kahn-Sales
Northern Arizona University


Part I
Due to the significant budget cuts that Mesquite University (MU) is facing, incorporating
elements of entrepreneurship (social and otherwise) will be necessary to fund existing and future
infrastructure that will provide MUs students with the education they will need to be successful,
and to respect and keep alive the ideas in their university Charter. In addition to these significant
budget cuts, MU is facing the same issue that every college and university is dealing with: that of
remaining relevant in a society that is growing more skeptical about the value of higher
education (Stephens, n.d.), experiencing significant shifts in population demographics (McGuire,
2013) and the difficulty of finding gainful employment post-graduation. It is no longer enough
to simply get a bachelors degree to enter the workforce, although once the workforce has been
entered, the benefits of obtaining a bachelors are obvious (reviewed in Kandiko, 2010)
employers are placing increasing value on internship experiences, prior employment experience,
and what a student has done outside of the classroom (Chronicle, 2012).
With all of this in mind, Mesquite University has several options to choose from in terms
of its direction: many universities go the route of online education to boost enrollment numbers
and tuition dollars that come in (the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and
Northern Arizona University, for example, all have robust online offerings); other institutions cut
staff, shift their hiring modes towards seeking out and contracting part-time faculty over tenuretrack professors, and raise tuition (Hearn, 2008; Kandiko, 2010). Still more gravitate towards the
development of niche programs, such as NAUs Personalized Learning program (NAU, 2016), or
various Boot Camp programs to open access to more students (James, 2016). In the case of
Mesquite University, however, the impending budget cuts would make it exceptionally difficult


to create the infrastructure and hire/repurpose adequate staff to get any large, online or
nontraditional program off of the ground in the short term. I feel it would best benefit the
university to partner with private-sector, corporate entities, with the end goal of creating rich,
globally-pertinent academic programs that will enrich individual student learning outcomes and
provide the experiential learning opportunities that employers are seeking.
It will be through establishing these partnerships that Mesquite University will be able to
continue to honor their universitys charter. Cutting redundant programs and focusing on
emergent technologies and globally important research will bring in research funds from
Mesquites partner companies, funds that can be bolstered by competitive, timely grants and
patent royalties. These partnerships especially if they are with industries important to the
regional economy - will also allow for new, interdisciplinary programs to arise as economies
change and research uncovers new areas of study, allowing Mesquite to provide a targeted,
quality education at an affordable price and contribute to the communitys financial well-being
by providing well-trained, experienced professionals immediately after graduation.
Part II
Neo-liberal philosophy per Dr. Kris Ewing advocates for economic rationality above
all else (Ewing, n.d.; Kandiko, 2010; Kezar, 2004). Within this concept is the idea that
maximizing personal value (the value that a professor or student brings to a university, for
example, or a programs value to the college they are in) will ultimately serve an institution
better than bolstering all of the moving parts within it, weak or strong (Ewing, n.d.). This
philosophy makes sense when streamlining a university; it eliminates unsuccessful programs and
places value on units that create tangible benefits for the university and its students; Kezar
(2004), states that universities under neoliberal leadership have a tendency to go the route of


corporatization, where universities are treated as companies and governance is based on

economic well-being. With these tenets of neoliberal philosophy in mind, Mesquite University
should narrow its focus onto the creation of a handful of specific programs and partnerships that
will provide students with valuable career-readiness experience, to make them successful players
in the global economy. It is also to MUs benefit to carefully consider and forge partnerships
that intertwine into the economy of the region, both to fulfill Mesquites University Charter and
assist with attracting and maintaining local talent to the region and making the university an
important contributor to the regional economy.
Significant precedent has been set for a move like this, and there are many examples to
choose from. For one, a recent partnership has developed between Caterpillar and the University
of Arizona (UA), and the university now offers a graduate certificate called Mining 360, for
high-level Caterpillar employees to learn about advances in the field (Goetz, 2016). This
collaboration takes advantage of the historical mining operations are a key industry Southern
Arizona, and couples a longstanding economic cornerstone of the region with a company that is
heavily invested in the industry and has, in the past, worked with the university on smaller
projects. Similarly, IBM recognizing a skills gap and a growing industry in Big Data has
partnered with over one thousand universities around the world to develop new curricula, degree
programs, and research initiatives (IBM, 2013). Finally, though executed on a far broader scale,
the partnership between Arizona State University (ASU) and Starbucks yet another example;
offered to all benefits-eligible Starbucks partners (employees), the program covers tuition costs
when they attend ASU Online, which boasted an impressive 49 programs as of 2015 (Howard,
2015). Starbucks goal, part of the rationale of their partnership with ASU, is to increase the
impact of their social entrepreneurship benefits, by furthering their goal of hiring 10,000


Opportunity Youth and reducing unemployment among the 18-24 demographic of American
youth (Starbucks Newsroom, 2016); for ASU, it means a significant boost to their online school
and growth in accordance with its strategic plan.
Eyring and Christenson (n.d.) discuss the trade-offs between offering a wide breadth of
degree programs and relying on public funding versus the pro-profit model of honing in on a
handful of highly effective, marketable programs they conclude the need for many public
universities to streamline in this way and grow in a more directed path, as opposed to
amorphously and inefficiently. (Note that this proposal does not advocate that Mesquite
University become a for-profit venture, but instead per the Industrial model allow for-profit
ventures to create a stake in the university through research and student engagement
opportunities. These partnerships will operate as a hybrid for/nonprofit venture , but not quite to
the point of a benefit corporation, like Alliant Corporate University (wherein institutions may
take in private donations but answer to corporate and not-for-profit educational stakeholders;
Lederman, 2015).
Part III
One major challenge to my university-corporate partnership initiative will be finding
suitable partners that align well with MUs University Charter, partners that are robust and large
enough to maintain long-term agreements with the university. Mesquite University is not as
large a campus as either Arizona State University, and has less reach (in the way of online
offerings, for example) to provide incentive for a large-scale, broad partnership with a company
like Starbucks (Howard, 2015); it is a research university, however, and large enough to have a
significant impact on the local economy. A strategic pairing increases Mesquites research
output, but it should be noted that companies deal with research on a very different time span


that is, far more quickly than universities and any partnership will have to clearly delineate the
degree of the collaboration, what share each stakeholder has in research deliverables and
intellectual property, and how long partnerships will last for (Perkmann and Salter, 2012). Likins
(n.d.) offers further advice for successful university-industry collaborations, emphasizing that
both partners are working together for the benefits of their students and must put student success
as a high priority, and that universities must be prepared to tackle ethical concerns over shared
research or company policy.
To choose only one major benefit to partnership is difficult. From the perspective of
Mesquite university, the benefits of partnering with a company will be measured in (1) an
increase of students (as seen in the Starbucks partnership), who are attracted to strong programs
with high potential for post-graduation job opportunities; (2) an increased output of funded
research and a commensurate increase in research patents developed from these programs, and
(3) a more robust, local economy, as graduates from these programs will choose to remain and
work for these industries (McKeever, 2014). The largest benefits of these partnerships, however,
will be to the students that participate with them; these partnerships address the need for
significant college-level engagement to prepare students to work in research and industry, and
will provide students valuable experience that matters to employers (as addressed in Chronicle,
2012), as well as teach critical thinking skills, the art of collaboration, and interdisciplinarity
(Davies et al., 2011). There is still uncertainty in how well incorporating corporate tactics will
work in a university, however Hearn (2008) said as much several years ago, and even in the
ensuing years, the effects of privatization have not been totally clear, though Adrianna Kezar
(2004) mentions examples from the late nineteen nineties of increased patents, and funding


increases due to industry research collaborations; current initiatives and studies to measure these
collaborations outputs are in progress.
Part IV
To further this industry partnership, I propose the following goal for Mesquite University:
1. To create a task force from different colleges and student services units within Mesquite
University to focus on identifying successful academic programs across colleges that
would benefit from partnership. This group will be in charge of vetting and contacting
potential partners; a separate task force will be organized in this same time frame to
identify ways to cut costs by eliminating redundant or unsuccessful programs and
departments, and merging academic units as necessary.
2. By the beginning of the 2017 fiscal year in July, the task force will have identified and
begun to contract with a minimum of three industry-campus partnerships for an initial
one-year period. This group will also be in the process of drafting a plan with the
University and partner corporations legal team for how to sustainably maintain and grow
these alliances over the next three years.
3. By the start of the 2018 Fiscal year, Mesquite University will develop a marketing plan to
draw in to prospective students, as well as a student tracking system to measure the
success of the first years initiatives in terms of job placement and academic
achievement. For students that have graduated, tracking will be coordinated via surveys
given by Mesquite Universitys Alumni Relations office. The efficacy of the corporateuniversity partnership itself will be assessed by targeted surveys to both the university
and corporate partners, which will take into account program deliverables and research


Part V
Table 1: Campus Partnership Timeline

OctoberDecember 2016

Formation of university task force to identify and

pursue Corporate Partnerships with key academic
First initial steps to balance new university budget:
identify staffing & program redundancies


Decommission poorly performing programs, fInalize

mergers of similar academic programs to reduce
Plan for changes in staffing needs, provide support to
shifting departments & personnel

July 2017
July 2017-June
July 2018

Identify, partner, and draft initial partnership

agreements between academic programs and
three chosen companies
Begin drafting marketing materials

Debut new industry partnerships and marketing

With university and company legal teams, begin
planning for three year period - deliverables,
funding, privacy agreements
Develop tracking system for current students to
measure academic progress and surveys for postgraduates

Finalize tracking system and send out first round of

graduate surveys from Alumni Office
Assess efficacy of programs via research
deliverables, participant surveys


Part VI: References

Chronicle of Higher Education. (2012). The Role of Higher Education in Career Development:
Employer Perceptions [Powerpoint slides]. Retrieved from
An invitation was sent to over fifty thousand employers at varying levels (human resources
staff, managers, and executives), ages, and career progressions to gauge how well-prepared
college graduates are when they enter the workforce. Slightly over seven hundred
employers responded from a variety of fields; the general consensus was that universities
were going a good or excellent job in preparing students for the workforce, with the
exceptions of the service, healthcare, and media industries. Many employers place more
value on a bachelors degree, but work/internship experiences and extracurricular activities
were found to be extremely important factors in hiring decisions. Interviewing and
research skills, as well as interpersonal communication were found by many respondents to
be lacking in college graduates.
Davies, A., Fidler, D., and Gorbis, M. (2011). Future Work Skills 2020. Retrieved from
Davies et al. describes essential work skills that will be crucial for success in the job market
by 2020, given the rise of globalization, technology advancement, and the need to rethink
jobs given the lengthening of the human lifespan. Among the skills that will need to be
developed are the ability to function within a variety of groups and diciplines, critical and



computational thinking, and literacy with emerging technologies and media. This work
concludes with steps that universities, policymakers, and employers can take to train their
students and employees, in order to keep relevant and current in the next decade.
Ewing, K. (n.d.). Charter and Public Good [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from
Dr. Ewings Powerpoint slides, used for the CCHE680 class, go over the importance of a
universitys public charter and how it is used as a system of checks and balances between a
states educational stakeholders. This presentation also addresses three disparate
philosophies on how to govern a university: communitarianism, liberalism, and
utilitarianism, and how these philosophies play into how a university is managed. Special
attention is given to neoliberalism and the trends of how neoliberalism appears in a
university setting.
Eyring, H.J. and Christenson, C.M. (n.d.) The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of
Higher Education. Retrieved from
In The Innovative University, Henry Eyring and Clayton Christensen discuss factors that
are threatening what they term traditional universities, meaning the colleges and
universities in the United States, and describe the history that has gotten our universities to
their current points. The disruptive innovations of online learning is discussed in relation
to universities tendencies to grow and become redundant; additionally, Eyring and



Christensen give advice for college and universities to narrow their focuses to remain
relevant and focused in the 21st century.
Goetz, J. (2016). Caterpillar Leaders Immersed in Mining at UA. Retrieved from
This news article highlights the 2016 partnership between the Caterpillar construction
company and the University of Arizona, called Mining 360. With Caterpillar, the
University has developed a graduate certificate program designed for high-level Caterpillar
managers, which goes hand in hand with Caterpillars recent relocation of some of their
mining operations to Tucson, Arizona. The program is one year long, offers nine UA
credits, and offers hands-on learning opportunities to explore mining operations.
Hearn, J.C. (2008). Higher Educations New Business Models: How Colleges and Universities
Are Changing the Ways They Work. IHE Report. University of Georgia, 10-14.
James Hearns article discusses and analyzes the effects of reforms occurring on university
campuses, chiefly in the realms of tuition pricing, budgeting, hiring practices, and faculty
compensation. With an eye to finances, Hearn tackles the ideas of tuition differentiation
and discounting, as well as fee unbundling, and the pros and cons to each approach; with
regards to faculty, he addresses the growing trend of hiring non-tenured faculty and how
faculty salaries have shifted from minimally variable to including at-risk or bonus funds
that can be shifted around as needed. Finally, he discusses budgeting, incentive-based
systems, and how it is still unclear how adoption of these for-profit tactics will affect



Howard, C. (2015). Barista To Bachelor's: Starbucks-ASU Partnership Offers Full 4-Year

Online College Degrees. Retrieved from
Howards article outlines the specifics of the ASU Online-Starbucks partnership and
provides a one-year check-in, after the partnership was extended into a four-year degree. In
addition to reiterating the requirements to participate, it gives context to why the program is
such a crucial part of Starbucks social entrepreneurship initiatives and explain Starbucks
financial share in the partnership. Over two thousand individuals employed by Starbucks
took advantage of the partnership in its initial year.
IBM. (2013). IBM Narrows Big Data Skills Gap By Partnering With More Than 1,000 Global
Universities. Retrieved from
IBMs press release outlines an addition to the already massive collaboration between the
computer giant and over one thousand universities world-wide to develop programming
related to big data and how large amounts of information are processed. As of 2015, it was
expected that 4.4 million jobs would be created to support Big Data and its use. Also in
2013, IBM awarded fourteen university professors for their top-notch curricula focused
around skill-building and professional development with regards to data processing.
James, K. (2016). New Funding, Aligned Incentives. Retrieved from
New Funding, Aligned Initiatives discusses new frontiers that students and institutions
can take advantage of to finance nontraditional degree programs. Examples of private



financiers such as Skills Fund and Climb Credit assist students attending boot camp
programs and other degree or certificate programs that are not covered by financial aid;
some institutions, such as Minerva Academy, do not accept Federal Student Aid and also
look to these financing options to assist their students. Income Share models are also
becoming more prevalent, wherein a student pays only a set percentage of their income for
a period of time. All of these funding options are potentially usable to create and increase
access to innovative programs unavailable elsewhere.
Kandiko, C.B. (2010). Neoliberalism in Higher Education: A Comparative Approach. Retrieved
This articles main focus is on examining the effects of globalization, leading to neoliberal
academic policies on students. The topics discussed include lowered student-faculty
interaction, an increase in the hiring of part-time and untenured faculty (specifically with
regards to the uneven hiring of female faculty), and the changing landscape and
stratification of academic disciplines. Kandiko also covers the reality of neoliberal policies
on an institution, contrasting them against neoliberalisms theoretical expectations for
colleges and universities.
Kezar, A. (2004). Obtaining Integrity? Reviewing and Examining the Charter between Higher
Education and Society. The Review of Higher Education 27 (4), 429 459.
Kezars paper focuses on research related to the industrial model of education, and how it
contrasts with communitarian and neoliberal ideals; Kezar also provides historical
perspectives on each of these philosophies and provides a comprehensive review of
educational literature and research showing how they have been utilized and incorporated



into colleges and universities over time. The paper spends a great deal of time focusing on
the purpose of a universitys public charter and its role as a check and balance, and then
shifts into a discussion of the public good and how it is interpreted through the lenses of the
three different philosophies. Obtaining Integrity ends by posing a series of questions to
leaders in higher education to critically evaluate to what degree the public good is being
served and what direction education should take to remain relevant.
Lederman, D. (2015). Blurring the Nonprofit/For-Profit Divide. Retrieved from
This article discusses the trend of privatization for not-for-profit universities, and the
increasing overlap between the two states that is becoming more and more common. In
specific it discusses the case of Alliant International University, which adopted the new
status of a for-profit benefit institution, allowing Alliant to take in private funding for its
programs while keeping its charter public and being held accountable to a variety of
stakeholders. There is concern expressed for how truly different this designation is,
however, given that benefit institutions and for-profits are extremely similar to one another
and operate under many of the same constraints.
Likins, P. (n.d.) Corporate partnerships: what's in it for the university? Retrieved from
Peter Likins, in this opinion piece, tackles the idea of corporate partnerships in research and
asks the question of what benefits universities reap in those collaborations. While Likins
supports corporate sponsorship in that it has the possibility of raising awareness of research



funding issues, he makes sure to point out that collaborations between for- and non-profit
entities comes with responsibilities on the university side such as the need for institutes of
higher education to respect their charters and missions, understand that ethical concerns
may arise over intellectual property or company culture, and that students must always
come first at any level, undergraduate or beyond.
McGuire, P. (2013). Shifting the Higher Education Paradigm. Retrieved from
In this opinion post, Patricia McGuire, the President of Trinity University, discusses the
huge, sweeping changes in the educational landscape, and touches on how colleges and
universities nationwide are handling these shifts. Per data taken from the National Center
for Education Statistics, minorities are enrolling in college at much higher rates than in the
past, as are non-traditional and part-time students, and women. McGuire also discusses the
upcoming trends away from discussion four-year graduation rates (to be replaced, she
predicts, with skills-mastery or other learning assessments) and changes to the financial aid
McKeever, S. (2014). Starbucks: How Tuition Reimbursement Benefits Both Employee and
Employer. Retrieved from
Shaley McKeever, in this work, outlines the benefits to Starbucks in forming their 2014
collaboration with Arizona State University. One obvious benefit is the positive light that
this partnership sheds on the company and their ability to make gains in their campaign of
social entrepreneurship. In addition to this, the ASU collaboration gives Starbucks the



chance to draw from a highly-educated work pool for their more senior positions, and
encourages partners to remain with the company after they graduate.
Northern Arizona University. (2016). What is Personalized Learning? Retrieved from
This site describes NAUs Personalized Learning Program, which is a subscription-based
learning service that allows individuals to receive college credit based on life experiences.
Students are free to pursue their studies on their own schedule, without needing to worry
about class times or assignment due dates and the program is based on the mastery of
competencies, which are tangible skills that can be applied both to education and ones
profession. Personalized learning differs from traditional online learning, in that online
programs are typically just courses repurposed into an online format, with all of the
deadlines and expectations one would find in an in-person course.
Perkmann, M. and Salter, A. (2012) How to Create Productive Partnerships With Universities.
Retrieved from
How to Create Productive Partnerships looks at university-private sector collaboration from
the perspective of a company, and addresses some considerations those in the private sector
must make before pursuing outside partnerships. Perkmann and Salter discuss different
ways that collaborations can be formed, and then address the real differences that may lead
to conflict: privacy and open nature of academia, for example. Further, they caution
companies to truly think through how their partnerships will proceed and grow, for best
results on both ends.



Starbucks Newsroom. (2016). Starbucks College Achievement Plan: Frequently Asked

Questions. Retrieved from
The Starbucks College Achievement Plan was instituted as a partnership in 2014 with
Arizona State Universitys online college. This document answers the most frequently
asked questions about the Achievement plan, including which partners can benefit from
their partnership with ASU, Starbucks rationale behind the partnership, an explanation of
their social entrepreneurship efforts, and how the educational benefits work.
Stephens, D. (n.d.) The UnCollege Manifesto: your guide to academic deviance. Retrieved from
In Stephens UnCollege Manifesto, he offers an alternative to the traditional path of a
college education and seeks to debunk the myth that college is the only way to be
successful in life and in a career. He point-by-point addresses all of the typical reasons an
individual goes to college, provides the reader with prompts and templates to map out who
they are and what their goals are, and offers advice and further readings to assist unsure
potential college students with planning out their path. Finally, Stephens provides a
detailed twelve-step program to assist Unschoolers with becoming life-long learners that
are untethered to a classroom.
Writing S.M.A.R.T. Goals. (n.d.). Retrieved from



This document outlines how to write SMART (an acronym for Specific, Measurable,
Attainable, Realistic, and Timely) goals when coming up with objectives for a project.
Definitions and examples of each SMART goal are also included, to act as a guide. Finally,
the document includes a questionnaire, meant to help an author decide whether the goals
meet each set of criteria.